the first blog...

This is my first blog post of the new year. Feels kind of weird. Not like a "I am so nervous I am going to pee my pants" weird; more of a fresh new can of tennis balls. How many readers out there love to open a fresh new can of tennis balls? When I open up the can of fresh new tennis balls, it smells awesome. It reminds me of the new car smell. So I guess, to this point of my blog post I am just about to open the fresh new can of tennis balls. Are you ready to pull the tab and smell those awesome chemicals?!

Now that was an odd way to start off the new year and the first blog post of the year. It feels strange that we are here in this place today. Outside the ski is blue, clouds are white, and the air is about -30 degree's but it is still another day to live and breathe the word of God.

I feel like we should all gather around a camp fire, grab our snuggies, and just talk with each other. Over the past week, I have been on a visit to the ER, seen several people crash on a ski slope, and have watched the eyes of the youth open up to a world almost new to them. I have seen my eyes open to a whole new perspective of ministry for the new year. Want to know what it is? We are just about to tear off the tab of the tennis ball can. Ready?

Relational ministry has been a facade in the church for years. What do I mean by this? Well, as ministers who work in the church we are supposed to be relational with those around us. However, I feel that the church has had the intent, for a long time, of using a relationship to have people turn their lives over to Christ. Therein, using their salvation as a means to an end. Sometimes, we in the church only care about the numbers of people saved and baptized, which are both great, don't get me wrong.

Why do we always have to have an agenda for something when it comes to relationships? True relational ministry should not have a means to an end. The relationships you form with those around you should be a TRUE relationship. In order to really know a person for who they are, we must walk with them in their shoes. A true relationship is defined as knowing somebody as well as yourself. You know their fears, their heart, their joys, their pains, they sorrow, their melancholy areas of life. We must also experience these times with them also.

For years, I have been trained to think that I must filter through relationships with one goal in mind, the salvation of the person. It was always my intent to sit down and form a great relationship with somebody, only to try to turn their life to God. I should be a disciple of Christ, but do you think Christ came down to this earth for the sole purpose of a means to an end? Absolutely not! Christ came to this earth to live amongst us, to bring us to salvation, but to live with the people and know them and have their same fears, joys, laughs, cries etc. Christ was fully God but He was also fully human.

This is not to put down the passion of those who want to do relational ministry. This post is to simply inform us to think outside our box for just a minute. This post is to get you to ask questions about the daily life we lead. Do we always live for God? Why is it we most always have a purpose to get to know somebody? Is it because they have something we want or may need later? Are we just looking for a favor or to REALLY know the person?

As a Minister of Youth, I can not sit here and tell you that I am doing the best at relational ministry. I think that the youth in my youth group have a good understanding of who I am, where I have been, what I like and don't like. Maybe they know even my weight. However, do they really know me as a person. Do they know that sometimes I cry myself to sleep because of what is going on through my parents right now? Do people know the real me? This also begs the question, are you being real with yourself and those around you? Are you hiding aspects about your life to those who you want to hide them from? People may not know the best thing about you, or your joys, or your laughs, fears or anything else about you.

My question to you today is, are you being relational with those around you? Are you striving to honor God in being a disciple? Are you becoming friends with the new person at church or in your office or at school simply because you have a means to an end?

Have you opened the can of tennis balls yet? Do you smell the aroma? Can you picture how they are new and fresh? Open the heart of your true self and let Christ be revealed through all you do. Honor and glorify Him so that is shines through. Don't get to know people just because you want something they can offer you. Get to know the real person and who that person really is. It is then that we can disciple them and show them the grace an forgiveness that Christ offers to all.

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